Seattle gains a woonerf: 12th Ave Square Park now open

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(Images: CHS)

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Newly completed 12th Ave Square Park is the kind of open space you need to create in a tightly packed, Central Seattle neighborhood. Where once was an empty, 7,322-square-foot, gravel-covered lot, now is a paved plaza with native plantings, raised pedestals, and a rubber coated mound that answers the cross-neighborhood call of Cal Anderson’s Teletubby Hill. Above it all floats a sculpture by artist Ellen Sollod.

All that and you can drive through it thanks to the James Ct woonerf that runs softly (and one way, only) through the edge of the new public space. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s gay film festival is now TWIST

Twist-logoIn 1995, Capitol Hill’s Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival was born. In 2016, it chose a new identity.

Come October, the 21st year of the festival from 12th Ave Arts headquartered Three Dollar Bill Cinema will come under a new name — TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival.

“We’re just bringing a new name and fresh attitude to our steadfast community event,” executive director Jason Plourde said in a statement on the new name. “Our fans can still expect the spectacular films, great parties, and creative programs we’ve produced all along.”

After “a survey that garnered hundreds of responses” and “numerous meetings with staff, board, and stakeholders,” Three Dollar chose the new festival brand for its “film connotations,” and because it evokes “a festive, social, and celebratory spirit,” and  “something unique and off-center, an unexpected surprise to be discovered and revealed, beyond the usual norms and conventions.”

The 2016 festival returns October 13th through 23rd. You can learn more at


Capitol Hill food+drink | Juicebox and Hot Cakes owners team up for ‘plant based’ ice-cream shop

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Autumn Martin and Kari Brunson making your dairy free ice cream dreams come true. (Image: Frankie & Jo’s)

F&J_IceCreamConeWhat do you get when you combine the owner of a decadent dessert shop and the owner of a healthy juice company in Seattle? Nut milk ice cream, fresh fruit sorbet, and a future customer base willing to loan out cash to make it happen.

This week Autumn Martin of Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery and Kari Brunson of Juicebox Cafe launched a fundraising campaign to close their budget gap on plans for their “plant-based” ice cream shop Frankie & Jo’s. The duo are scouting two possible locations, including one on Capitol Hill, with plans to open this fall. But don’t let geography be the only thing that sways your investment.

“We’re just a dynamic team,” Brunson said. “We created an ice cream that is amazing and is not using any animal products at all.”

Continue reading

Next generation of great dancers may not be able to call Hill home — but Velocity’s Bridge Project will help some get their start here

IMG_0181 IMG_0191 IMG_0207 IMG_0221 IMG_0242 IMG_0995 IMG_1010Tonya Lockyer, artistic director of Capitol Hill’s Velocity Dance Center and co-chair of the Capitol Hill Arts District, is trying to help keep Capitol Hill as a focus of arts energy, though it is getting increasingly difficult. She said that in a survey of the district’s artistic community, many dancers and performers want to live on the Hill to be a part of the performer community, but the cost of living here is making it ever more difficult.

One way to try and rise above that is to give emerging performers an opportunity to show their stuff. That’s what Velocity does through its annual Bridge Project. The 2016 edition takes place next week at the 12th Ave studio.

The Bridge Project started in 2006, Lockyer said, though at the time it had a different model. When she arrived in 2011, it transitioned to its current state, giving four choreographers who are either new to Seattle, or have been working here for fewer than three years, a chance to produce a show.

Lockyer says Seattle is on the rise in the dance world.

“We’re drawing people to Seattle from around the country because we’re the new hotbed for dance,” she said.

Lockyer credits this to the city having two organizations, Velocity and On the Boards, dedicated to creating a community for dancers.

“(Velocity) was founded to create a Seattle dance scene, and that’s what it’s done over the past 20 years.” Lockyer said.

For the Bridge Project, the center gives each of the budding choreographers 45 hours of rehearsal time with a group of auditioned dancers over about a month. This allows the artists to rehearse five days a week, which Lockyer said is a rare opportunity in these days of limited funding.

It also gives the dancers technical and administrative support. At the end of the show, Lockyer said, the audience members get feedback cards, so they can tell the artists what they thought.

“This is like a big, beautiful gift for everyone,” said Stephanie Liapis, one of this year’s choreographers. “This feels like a really big opportunity to try some new things.”

Liapis, who studied at the UW before moving to New York, just relocated back to Seattle in August. All that moving got her thinking about displacement; the voluntary sort of displacement — moving to a new place and the freedom, and lack of freedom it can give a person.

“It’s my experience right now, and I’m really interested in it, so I’m trying to figure it out,” she said.

In her work, she said she gave the dancers some early ideas, but much of the work will be contributed from them, with her acting as more of an editor or curator. Continue reading

Thieves make off with car, cash in 12th Ave armed carjacking

A male victim had his vehicle, phone, wallet, and $200 cash stolen in a gunpoint carjacking reported at 12th and Denny Saturday night.

Police responded to the scene around 11:40 PM. According to East Precinct radio reports, two males held the driver up at gunpoint before fleeing the scene in the Toyota Solara.

Police described the armed suspect as a light skinned black male in his 20s wearing a black bandana over his face, around 5’7″ with short hair, and armed with a black pistol.

The vehicle was last seen headed east from the hold-up scene. The victim was not injured in the incident and, according to police radio, he still made it to his date after the robbery.

There were no immediate arrests. SPD is investigating.

‘Fully involved’ fire chars 12th/John squatter house for second time in week

Nobody was injured in what Seattle Fire called a “fully involved” house fire in the 100 block of 12th Ave E early Saturday morning just after 5 AM.

For the second time in a week, firefighters were called to fight flames inside a boarded-up home at 12th and John used by squatters and drug users to get out of the cold Seattle nights. This time, however, the entire home burned.

The structure — one of three boarded and empty of legal residents — at the corner is set to be demolished to make way for a new microhousing project. It still stands but with charred walls on both of its floors.

Wednesday morning, Station 25 firefighters were called to the same house to fight a fire in the basement. That blaze was found to be an accident, most likely caused by “improperly discarded smoking material.”

The location has generated repeated calls to police to report trespassers and people camping inside the structures. Permits for demolition have been filed but not yet issued.

UPDATE 11:45 AM: Seattle Fire remains on the scene:

‘Capitol Hill’ web series returns with uncut premiere at NW Film Forum

11782272_395482093979095_8684651123582438947_oThe web series that combines soap opera histrionics, 1970’s-style sitcom hijinks, and over the top queer characters set in an alternate Capitol Hill universe has grown up and is coming to the big screen.

The creators of Capitol Hill are back with a second season and will be premiering it in its entirety January 12th at Northwest Film Forum. With support from a new major sponsor and a City of Seattle grant, the second season of the popular YouTube show promises to be even more impressive than the first.

“Season 2 is far more ambitious in every way,” said creator and director Wes Hurley. “The story lines are more complex and have a darker sinister edge.” Continue reading

Seattle Fire squelches basement blaze in 12th/John squatter house

One of a set of buildings on the southwest corner of 12th and John destined for development but currently sitting in particleboard limbo caught fire Wednesday morning prompting a fast, large response from Capitol Hill’s Station 25.

Smoke was first reported coming from the building around 9:18 AM. Seattle Fire arrived to find smoke and flames in the basement of the multi-story building covered with boarded windows and graffiti tags. The first sweeps of the building found no victims and the stubborn fire was reported completely out around 40 minutes later.

Screen-Shot-2014-08-12-at-10.28.20-PM-600x236The 12th Ave structure is one of three at the corner lined up to be replaced by a new 50-unit microhousing development from prolific firm b9 that have been boarded for months. Seattle Police have been called to the corner regularly to reports of trespassers and squatters inside the buildings. Permits for demolition of the buildings moved forward late in 2015 but have not yet been issued by the city.

UPDATE 1/7/2016: A Seattle Fire spokesperson tells CHS that Wednesday’s fire has been ruled accidental and was likely caused by discarded smoking material. There were no reported injuries. The spokesperson said that damages were estimated at $1 — the procedural amount utilized for structures that are planned to be demolished.

Peloton — cafe, bar, bike shop — ready to ride on E Jefferson

IMG_7144IMG_7054IMG_7018 IMG_7028There is still some fine-tuning required but it’s roadworthy. Peloton the scrappy, gritty contender in a small pack of bike-related ventures starting around Capitol Hill and Central Seattle — will officially open for the New Year on January 2nd.

CHS stopped by the E Jefferson cafe, bike, and repair shop over the weekend as it hosted the after-ride party from the latest Back Alley Bike Repair time trial.

Peloton is a project from a group of riding friends who came together in Seattle’s bike polo scene and is part of a small trend of new ventures that combine bicycling with cafe culture. “Many cyclists kind of pick up the sport and it leads to a rabbit hole,” co-owner Dustin Riggs told CHS earlier this year. “There is a lot of culture around it.” “The coffee and the beer and the bikes. It’s just a lifestyle kind of thing,” he said. Business partners include mechanics Paul Dano and Aaron Grant, and bicycling cook Mckenzie Hart, formerly of the London Plane. Riggs said to expect the food and drink elements of Peloton to come into racing shape latest in the project as the first-time owners were up against their biggest challenges building out kitchen space in the former Ethiopian grocery.

The opening is part of a changing area around 12th Ave. Here’s how Dano addressed a question about “gentrification” in the CHS comments:

don’t think that we haven’t thought about the elephant in every conscious seattleite’s mind – what does gentrification look like and how much of it is acceptable in our neighborhoods? let me tell you what i’ve learned and what i know about our situation specifically: the space that we now occupy was previously an ethiopian restaurant/bar since the 90s. since we’ve moved in, i’ve been able to meet and chat with the previous tenant about her business and the reasons why she gave it up. i asked her personal questions because i was curious why someone would end their business in such a great location after so many years. she told me that she was done working that hard, her kids were grown, and her husband also owns his own business, so there was no more need for her to continue operating her own business. she essentially retired. that was a great relief to me because i did not want to feel like i was the reason that a 20 year old business had to close their doors. this is not the case.

“we are the gentrifiers.” this thought weighed heavy on my conscious and was a topic of conversation amongst my partners and our close friends/consultants. then we put things into context. we – dustin, mckenzie, aaron, and i – are all low income citizens in this city. we have all existed on ~20k a year incomes for the majority of our years here in seattle. this will not change – we cannot afford to give ourselves raises beyond what we are accustomed to making. so, if you consider a small group of people just getting by doing what they are passionate about and doing it outside of working for someone else – i don’t know what to tell you that would make you feel better about what we are doing. i guess you’re going to have to visit and make a final judgement for yourself, which i invite you to do even before we’re open for business. we will be working 9-9 every day until we open. we’d love to chat with you or anyone curious about what we’re doing face to face. we’re confident that after meeting us and hanging out in our space that you will feel good about giving us your business. and we will greatly appreciate it.

Peloton now shares a block with the Central District home of Nate’s Wings and Waffles while “whole cow” steakhouse Seven Beef opened nearby in October. The area is also home to island-flavored Taste of the Caribbean. In 2012, Capitol Hill Housing opened the six-story affordable apartment building The Jefferson on the corner at 12th. The area on the edge of the Squire Park neighborhood is also home to the Blue Nile and Zobel Ethiopian restaurants. Meanwhile, the Art Inn a 15-room boutique hotel and bakery — is also planned for the neighborhood.

In biking parlance, the peloton is “the main field or group of cyclists in a race.” Middle of the pack? Sure. But also where you find your riding everyman and everywoman. You can compare and contrast the Peloton approach to bike culture with the massive, 12,500 square-foot gym, cafe, cycling shop, and company HQ from Metier now open on E Union. Meanwhile, a third bike shop + cafe project being planned for the area is back to starting line after running into difficulties with the Pike/Pine alley space it had targeted.

Peloton is at 1220 E Jefferson. You can learn more on the Peloton Facebook page.

Play on the Hill adds pet store after ‘Dog Bar’ plans fall through at Chophouse Row


It turns out the idea for a dog bar inside 11th and E Pike’s Chophouse Row was not meant to be, but you can still go watch pups romp around during your Capitol Hill lunch break.

The owner behind Play on the Hill dog daycare opened a small pet shop this week on the daycare’s mezzanine level that overlooks the puppy play area. Sarah Slater, who opened Play in April, originally envisioned a bar in the upper floor space.

Permitting complications quashed those dreams, so Slater opted to open a pet supply store stocked with a reliable assortment of food, toys, and treats along with a selection of dog and cat themed gifts. Slater also said dog lovers are welcome to pull up a stool at the counter bar that looks over the daycare.

“No alcohol I’m afraid, but folks can come and sit with their coffee, laptop, or The Stranger and de-stress watching pups at play,” she said (you could browse the new CHS new mobile site, too).

The Play on the Hill shop opened Tuesday. Slater said space is still available at the dog daycare, as long as your furry friend weighs in at 30 pounds or less.

Meanwhile, perhaps all is not lost for that original dog bar idea. The neighboring Manhattan space is looking for a new tenant. Live your dreams.

You can learn more here.


Not a dog bar :( (Images: Play on the Hill)